Education is an investment. A college degree increases the chances of employment and career opportunities. One of the main reasons people pursue college is to have a reputable job. A decent paying job means more money and this usually defines your success in terms of life choices. In a recent study initiated by the U.S. Census bureau, they found that an individual with a bachelor degree earn double the amount of money than individuals with just a high school diploma. In terms of the total lifetime salary, those with the college degree earn, on average, 30% more compared to those who only have a high school diploma.

There is no argument that college is expensive. However, this does not limit the options and choices that are available to you in order to complete college and obtain your degree. From financial aid, to scholarships, to virtual universities, there are many options available.

Community colleges are educational institutions that offer vocational and technical skills. Their programs usually run a two-year course. The name "community college" was derived from the idea of attracting and accepting only local students within the community. Community colleges are supported and financed by the local government.

Some of the institutions have evolved and further improved their programs. The comprehensive community college offers different types of education:

- Transfer education. This is the traditional two-year course program that provides option to continue a four-year college course after you have successfully completed two-years at a community college.

- Career education. This program is similar to the traditional two-year course. At the end of the program, the student is given an associate's degree and can work immediately.

- Developmental education. This is a remedial program for "academically challenged" high school graduates who are not ready for a full college course.

- Continuing education. This is a post secondary learning program. It is a non-credited course and for personal development only.

- Industry training. This is a contracted training where the company pays for the college expenses to provide specific course training to an employee.

Virtual universities have become increasingly popular because they are convenient for today's time strapped workers. Online colleges attract many working adults who want to pursue their college degree but cannot commit to the traditional school setting. Unlike the typical school institutions, virtual universities don't have buildings, hallways and classrooms; you only need a computer and a good Internet connection. Enrolling in online courses means you learn at your own pace; working on the assigned activities, reading course materials, doing your assignments and sending them using email. The course materials provided includes audio, video, software and web sites. Professors provide online tutorials for support.

Program courses have timetables; activities for the week are set and submission dates for the assignments are provided. For the course exam, students are notified where the test will take place.

If a student decides to study online it is important to check the reputation of the institution. Accredited virtual universities will give the student the assurance that education standards are met; the online instructors are certified and have the qualifications for designing online curriculum programs. Aside from accreditation and reputation, other factors to be considered are: tuition fee, academic awards, information guide on degrees offered, and special features of the school.

There are online sites that provide a list of accredited virtual universities. Look for reliable blog sites that will guide you in choosing your ideal online degree program. Some blog sites provide reviews and rankings of different programs and online colleges.

Getting an online college degree earns the same respect and recognition given to traditional school institutions. We are now in a "information age", where information and communication technology has become a significant part of our economy. The benefits of earning an online degree are endless.

Here is another reference to help you get started:

US Department of Education Database on Accredited Postseconary Institutions and Programs